when choosing a college

Factors to Consider When Commiting to a College

Lets get past the prestige of a name and get down to it.

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It's that time of year again, time for high school seniors to choose where they'll continue their education. Fresh out of the college application process just a year ago, I remember well the uncertainness of acceptances and then the decision that looms over you like a dark cloud until May 1st. Back then it seemed to complex between the financials and housing, so I've broken up factors of my own college decision-making process, in hopes that it will make your decision clearer and more transparent.

Location

College Profiles - Emmanuel College

When you graduate, are jobs readily available around the school? Does the surrounding area provide options for entertainment and a way to escape on the weekends?

Public Transportation

Four College Transportation System | Connecting Colleges and Communities With a New Source of Transit

Are their trains, buses, or subways that can provide an easy and affordable way to get home and to get to surrounding attractions. Public transit should be a priority especially if parking for freshman is limited or unavailable.

Prestige of your desired major

The Top 25 Music Schools 2015 | Hollywood Reporter

Is the school known for your planned major? Does it have a variety of minors and the flexibility to change majors?

Social Life

5 reasons college social life is important | Unigo

Does greek life monopolize a large part of the social life on campus? Does the university plan events to interact with fellow students and meet new people? Is there a large commuter population that may go home on weekends?

Financial Worth

Should the U.S. government reduce college tuition for everyone and ...

Will the name of the school really be worth the debt you might rack up? Does the school offer financial aid, work-study, or scholarships? Is the degree worth the time you'll spend paying it off?

Freshman Retention Rate

11 Crucial Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen

What is the percentage of students who return their sophomore year? How does this reflect the first year experience?

Student to Faculty Ratio

Public universities do not simply retrench lecturers | The Mole

What is the student to faculty ratio? Do the classes mostly consist of large lectures? Do they include smaller discussion groups to ask specific questions?

Job and Internship Opportunities

Tips for Your Intern Orientation

Does the school work internships into the curriculum? What is the percentage of students employed six months after graduation?

Curriculum Flexibility

The Case for a Core Curriculum

Are you able to take classes that interest you? Is the curriculum rigid?

Meal Plans and Dining Options

Dining Services

Are their dining options flexible both in and out of the dining halls? Are their accessible dining options off campus?

Extracurriculars

Making the Transition from High School to College Extracurriculars ...

Are there a variety of clubs and activities to meet people and take a break from academics? Are their clubs pertaining to your major that will build your resume?

Sports Life

The Information Regarding College Football Athletes Being Paid ...

What division is the school in? Do the sports interfere with academics? Are there club and intramural options?

Safety

Car and parking lot safety in college – Gone to College

Is there a strong police presence on campus? Is the school situated in a dangerous area? Is there a blue light system?

Alumni and Networking

Alumni Class Notes | Curry College

Are the school alumni active? Does the school host events to connect with them and explore possible job opportunities?

Job Opportunities on Campus

Why Getting an On-Campus Job Was the Best Thing I Ever Did

Is there a way to earn money on campus? Are the hours flexible around an academic schedule?

You shouldn't expect every school to check all of these boxes, but it should fulfill all of your priorities. Consider which of these is the most important to you, and always weigh the costs and benefits to make sure you'll be happy there, while also not accumulating a large amount of student debt.

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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